If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (St. Martin’s Press, March 26, 2013)
Review by Kenzie Helene
I’m really not a good reader of books where words are purposely spelled wrong, even if it’s a crucial point of the plot. Hell, I couldn’t even get through Lauren Myracle’s Internet Girls series. So, when the main character and narrator of If You Find Me started dropping her g’s, I was given a huge headache. I’d normally have put the book down and moved onto the next, but Corey’s personality made me want to read, even if she didn’t pronounce her -ing’s correctly.
Fourteen-year-old Carey and six-year-old Jenessa have lived in the woods with their mother for as long as they can remember. Now abandoned, they must fend for themselves—until they’re found by Carey’s father and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of comfort. Carey desperately wants to believe in this new reality but is held back by loyalty to her mentally ill mother, who gave Carey her violin and taught her to play the music that helps her survive. And then there’s the other piece of Carey’s past that haunts her, the story of what happened to her and Jenessa that night in the woods—the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken in over a year.*
The best thing about this book was the character development. The changes that Carey goes through fits perfectly with her backstory and her age and it manages to make Carey’s struggle a completely different situation than that of Jenessa’s, which was great and made both characters stand out as their own entities, rather than blending together into one tragic mess. Murdoch manages to time each of their breakthroughs really well. I find a lot of writers tend to force their characters into speedy, miraculous recoveries from traumatic events, but the time spent languishing in the pain of Carey’s past makes it drill into the heart of the reader that much more.
More than just the perfect timing with events, Murdoch actually throws in a few plot twists that weren’t easily guessed. It’s not like they were total curve-balls that came out of nowhere, but they certainly weren’t expected and the shock brought both pleasure and [intended] pain.
I mentioned earlier about how Jenessa had her own story that Carey’s viewpoint was able to reveal. This was true for all the characters. There were absolutely no cardboard cut outs and everyone had their motives, ambitions, faults and insecurities. I can just imagine the amount of time that went into creating these characters, making sure every single one was vivid and rounded out.
This book is supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to make you feel, supposed to make you think of how close things like this can [and have] happened in reality. It does its job well and shows exactly how Young Adult can approach difficult topics without trivializing them.
*Taken from BN.com